The Second Most Important Thing You Can Ever Do – Love…
A recent post discussed the most important thing you can ever do – love God. This laid the foundation for this article. Jesus clearly delineated the two most important things we can do: The second most important: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Mark 12:31 (ESV)
Two Important Assumptions
I will start with two important assumptions. They are important because unless these two things are true, you cannot do the second most important thing you can ever do!
The first assumption is: you love the Lord, the greatest thing you can ever do. This means you are in relationship with him, your sins are forgiven. It also means you are changing daily to become more like Jesus. You are participating in the love of God and are motivated to please him. Part of this great change in your life is that you are beginning to see the world through the eyes of God.
The second assumption is: you love yourself. Because you are in relationship with God, you are seeing your self-worth. You are understanding your value to God and your value in this world. You are being healed or have been healed of self-loathing. It also means you want the best for yourself and understand that God defines what is best – and you are fine with that!
With those two assumptions established, we turn to the scripture – Jesus’ expectation. It is that we love our neighbor as ourselves.
What is Love?
Love is the Greek word agape. This is the unconditional love that finds its only source in God. It is love that must be expressed – it cannot simply be possessed. It is transformational: when we experience it we are changed; when we express it, we are changed! It is powerful.
This love must be expressed and it is expressed in various ways. You can probably think of a hundred ways to express it but here are three general ways to show this love to your neighbors:
- Connect our neighbors to God. This is the one expression that yields eternal results. Anything else we do for our neighbor will be temporary – but still good! Our ultimate goal is for them to experience God’s love first hand in their lives and to become followers of Jesus.
- Use words. There are simple things we can say to make a profound difference in someone’s life: “I love you” is a great example. We should always bring positive uplifting words into our relationships! We should regularly remind people that God loves them!
- Use actions. We need to find the needs of our neighbors and then do all we can to fulfill those needs. A tangible demonstration of love and compassion is powerful! We need also to pray for our neighbors. While they may never know how much we pray for them, we know that prayer makes a profound difference!
Who is Your Neighbor?
And who is your neighbor? Jesus was asked this question and he answered it by telling the story of the good Samaritan. From that powerful parable we can discern who our neighbors are: family, the people next door and in our neighborhood, the people at work and at the store. Those at school and every chance encounter with someone. In other words: everyone is our neighbor!
Change Your World
What should you do next? Five suggestions:
- Get to know your neighbors. Take the initiative and begin to connect with them. You have already done this with numerous people in your life. But there may be more people out there who need you!
- Find out what they need. This takes a little time and a lot of trust so don’t be frustrated by delays. Be patient. Don’t pry and pester but love and persist! Remember your motive is not gossip but help!
- Supply that need – as much as it is within your power. Once you know what they need, supply that need. It may be as simple as a listening ear or a hug. It may be help with their kids after school. Whatever it is try to help!
- Pray for them all the time. When you pray for them, God makes good things happen. He will help you love them more. He will help them in their day to day lives.
- Invite them to get to know Jesus. Share your story. Invite them to church. Encourage their faith. If they reject your faith, continue to love them. Loving them after they initially reject you will prove to be a profound demonstration of God’s love!
Doing these five things will definitely change your world! And isn’t that we are here for?
And when you pass this along to one or two others they can help change their world, too!